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Fair Play: How LGBT Athletes Are Claiming Their Rightful Place in Sports


Zeigler tells the story of how sports has been radically transformed for LGBT athletes in the past four years.

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What people are saying…

“This important and accessible book about the evolving treatment of LGBTQ athletes in organized sports should be required reading for anyone involved in the playing, coaching, and administration of organized sports. Zeigler, an expert in LGBTQ athletics and cofounder of the online magazine Outsports, revisits key moments that have shaped sports participation for openly LGBTQ athletes. . . . The author debunks the myth that having a nonstraight athlete on a team’s roster is a ‘distraction’ and shares positive stories of younger athletes at high school and college levels who have come out to coaches, teammates, and family members. Zeigler argues that the dominant emotion holding back LGBTQ athletes is fear, reminding them and everyone else that courage is contagious.”
Publishers Weekly

“Outsports.com founder Zeigler gives an account of the great strides LGBTQ athletes have made in the sports world over the last 15 years . . . Lively and provocative, the book not only offers a much-needed perspective on what until recently has been one of the last bastions of heterosexism. It is also significant for its conscious consideration of how current developments will impact LGBTQ athletes of tomorrow. An informative, necessary work.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Zeigler is the cofounder of the online magazine Outsports, and he is a vocal and respected advocate for the LGBT sports community. Here he pens a series of essays about athletes who have come out, noting the misguided homophobia in the locker-room culture of sports, and the important role that straight athletes can play in the gay movement . . . Well researched, timely, and provocative, Zeigler’s book provides readers with candid personal accounts of the struggles and triumphs of LGBT athletes across a wide spectrum of the sports world.”

Fair Play, published in conjunction with Akashic Books, tells the story of how sports are transforming for LGBTQ athletes, and specifically focuses on the time period following the turn of the 21st century. Zeigler’s book covers treatment of LGBTQ athletes, touching on bullying and hazing that has surrounded, and continues to surround, LGBTQ athletes, specifically in high school and college, while weaving in stories of LGBT athletes and allies such as Michael Irvin, Fallon Fox, and Michael Sam, among others.”

“Rather than an individual autobiography or a fictional narrative, this book serves as a broader look into LGBTQ athletics topics and issues. It’s a great resource for anyone who wants to see the bigger picture of LGBTQ progress in sports. I even sent it to my grandpa after I came out, and it helped him see where I was coming from.”
Outsports, included in a roundup of 39 LGBT Sports Books recommended by a gay pro baseball player

“Zeigler candidly examines the issues involved in gay athletes’ coming-out processes, and the support (or, often, lack thereof) they receive from teammates, coaches, and their sports’ front offices . . . Zeigler gives due credit where it’s deserved, while sharply analyzing the deep undercurrents of squeamishness and hesitation that still stymie team sports’ full acceptance of their LGBT participants . . . Cyd Zeigler is here to remind us that there’s still much work to be done.”
ALA’s Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Round Table

“Zeigler shares the stories of those athletes who are working to bust through the prejudices and stereotypes, including NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox, and NFL hopeful Michael Sam. This book is one part history and one part anthem, and will resonate with anyone who has played on a team but not felt a part of one.”
Literary Hub

“Lack of acceptance, argues Zeigler, is more likely to come from teammates, owners, and others inside sports organizations. Using his access to athletes, managers, and coaches—something that teams often go to absurd lengths to restrict—he picks apart the homophobic inner worlds of amateur and professional sports.”
Gay & Lesbian Review

Fair Play presents LGBT history and shows how far the movement has come. It’s also an important scrapbook of past and present-day gay athletes who have bravely tested America’s social climate and come out, even when their careers were at risk.”
Bay Area Reporter

“It’s hard not to be fascinated with what’s definitely not your usual game coverage. Zeigler is a nationally known sports writer and this book is filled with insider peeks, big-name examples, astonishing incidents and up-and-comer encouragement.”
Washington Blade

“If sports are your thing, then Fair Play by Cyd Zeigler should be on your roster. Zeigler, an authority on sports and the LGBT community, looks at LGBT athletes, the issues they face, and the myths they have the power to dispel. You’ll read about three in-the-news gay athletes, and how gay and lesbian sports participants will one day change the current level of acceptance of LGBTQ players in the game.”
Washington Blade, Spring Arts 2016 preview

Included in the Bay Area Reporter‘s Pride 2016 Reading List

Included in the Wisconsin Gazette‘s Pride 2016 Summer Reading List

“Zeigler masterfully informs about LGBT sports history while motivating the reader to help foster progress.”
Roanoke Times

“The most important book you read this year. A clear-headed exploration of the integration of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender athletes into the world of mainstream sports, it . . . should be required reading for anyone involved in playing, coaching and administering organized athletics at any level.”

“Less than a generation ago, if a professional athlete came out publicly as gay, it was cause for controversy (at best) and harassment (at worst), from the stands and in the locker room. In today’s arena, however, gay and lesbian athletes enjoy wider acceptance from fans and followers; sadly, the intolerance that formerly came from the bleachers can now just as easily come from behind the scenes . . . [Fair Play is] enlightening for fans both straight and gay.”
OutSmart Magazine

“Long regarded as a leading voice in the space, Zeigler has written the definitive book on LGBT issues in sports. By turns informative, insightful, poignant, and (rightly) impatient, Zeigler shows how LGBT attitudes in sports mirror the broader cultural shift—and how sometimes they don’t.”
—Jon Wertheim, executive editor of Sports Illustrated

“Cyd Zeigler is right: courage is contagious. Sometimes all it takes is knowing others have come before and prevailed to spark a personal revelation and create another ally. More and more coaches, athletes, and fans are ready to embrace their LGBT teammates, even if—truth be told—there is still a lot of work to be done to change engrained mindsets and behaviors within sports at every level.”
—John E. Amaechi, former NBA player

Fair Play is an essential read and one that is desperately needed to help break down stereotypes and myths with LGBT athletes and the community at large. There is still so much work to be done, but Zeigler and many of the brave athletes he chronicles—gay and straight—are literally helping to save lives.”
—Amy K. Nelson, award-winning sports journalist

“Cyd Zeigler has to be listed among the great pioneers for making it possible for LGBT Americans to come out in the sporting world. His writing is filled with passion, insights, and a deep belief in equality. Fair Play fills a void of a critical part of LGBT history and we are fortunate that Zeigler has told it with such power and grace.”
—David Mixner, coauthor of Brave Journeys: Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage


The latest from Akashic’s Edge of Sports imprint.

When Cyd Zeigler started writing about LGBT sports issues in 1999, no one wanted to talk about them. Today, this is a central conversation in American society that reverberates throughout the sports world and beyond.

In Fair Play, Zeigler tells the story of how sports have transformed for LGBT athletes, diving into key moments and issues that have shaped sports for LGBT people today. He shares intimate behind-the-scenes details about various athletes and stories—including NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox, and NFL hopeful Michael Sam, among others—along with contextual insights about elite sports, including the overhyped “distraction” myth surrounding gay athletes.

Always the forward-thinker, Zeigler maps out the necessary steps to complete sports’ transformation and fully open athletics to LGBT people.

Political sportswriter and Edge of Sports imprint curator Dave Zirin (the Nation) has never shied away from criticizing that which die-hard sports fans hold dear. The Edge of Sports titles will address issues across many different sports—football, basketball, swimming, tennis, etc.—and at both the professional and nonprofessional/collegiate levels. Furthermore, Zirin brings to the table select stories of athletes’ journeys and what they are facing and how they evolve both in their sport as well as against the greater backdrop of one’s life’s odyssey.

Fair Play was included in a feature at Publishers Weekly on books that highlight transgender experiences; read it here.

Watch an interview with Cyd Zeigler from C-SPAN/Book TV’s coverage of the 2016 Miami Book Fair.

Read a feature on the Oregon athletes mentioned in Fair Play at the Oregonian.

Read excerpts from Fair Play at The AdvocateOutsports, and SB Nation.

Listen to interviews with Cyd Zeigler at KPCC’s Take Two and WBEZ’s Morning Shift.

Read interviews with Cyd Zeigler at the Windy City Times, The Outside Game, and the Los Angles Times.

Listen to an interview with Cyd Zeigler for Dave Zirin’s Edge of Sports podcast:

Book Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Published: 6/7/16
  • IBSN: 9781617754470
  • e-IBSN: 9781617754654


CYD ZEIGLER is the cofounder and coeditor of Outsports.com, the world’s most renowned publication dealing with LGBTQ issues in sports. One of the world’s leading experts on the intersection of sexuality and sports, Zeigler has been tapped to discuss the issue by CNN, ESPN, the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and many others. He has worked with countless athletes to tell their coming-out stories, including professional athletes Michael Sam, John Amaechi, and Ryan O’Callaghan. He is also the author of Fair Play: How LGBT Athletes Are Claiming Their Rightful Place in Sports. A graduate of Stanford University, Zeigler now lives in Los Angeles with his husband and two cats. My Life on the Line: How the NFL Damn Near Killed Me and Ended Up Saving My Life is his latest work.

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